If you have a minute, download this PDF from the Brady Bill website and read the stories. Obviously, the site has an agenda and the document is inherently political, but…read the stories. You don’t have to read all of them; the document is 62 pages long.
It’s a list of mass shootings in America. Since 2005. I’ve dipped into it a few times now. Whatever your politics, whatever your beliefs, it is a stunning and upsetting document that bears witness to a lot of deaths that could have been prevented.
I had a conversation with the twitter rep for AMC movie theaters earlier this evening. The news reported that costumes and fake weapons had been banned from theaters. Now, call me a geek (no really, do) but…I don’t remember any incidents wherein a Guy Dressed Up Like Aragorn stabbed a Guy Dressed Up Like Harry Potter as the two fandoms jockeyed for places in line. Having attended exactly one midnight showing in my life (for The Two Towers, in Edinburgh)…well, can I just say that contrary to the belief claimed by AMC’s twitter rep, that the lack of costumes would contribute to their patrons’ feeling safer…are you kidding me?
We talked. A lot. He clarified the company’s position: fake weapons were banned (you know what? Fine. I’ll give them a fake weapons ban. Even though fake weapons don’t generally, you know, shoot people), but costumes were actually not. Just, you know, masks. And things that cover your faces. If you don’t want to link through to their statement, I’ve copied the full text below:
“Statement About Aurora Incident (updated 2pm CDT)
3rd update: July 21, 2012, 5 p.m. CDT Contrary to media reports, costumes are not banned, but we will not admit guests with face-concealing masks and we will not allow fake weapons in the buildings. We want all our guests to feel comfortable at our theatres and we will be closely monitoring
2nd update: July 21, 2012, 2 p.m. CDT Kansas City, Mo. – AMC Theatres is deeply saddened by the Aurora tragedy. Movie going is part of our social fabric and this senseless act shakes us to our core. We’re reinforcing our security procedures with our theatre teams, which we cannot discuss in detail for obvious, safety reasons. Local law enforcement agencies, our landlords and their and our local security teams are stepping up nationwide to ensure we provide the safest environment possible for our guests. We couldn’t be more grateful for their collective support.
At this time, our show schedules circuit-wide will not change. We will not allow any guests into our theatres in costumes that make other guests feel uncomfortable and we will not permit face-covering masks or fake weapons inside our buildings. If guests wish to exchange or refund any tickets, we will honor our existing policy and do as our guests wish. We are taking necessary precautions to ensure our guests who wish to enjoy a movie this weekend can do so with as much peace of mind as possible in these circumstances.
ORIGINAL STATEMENT: We are terribly saddened by the random act of violence in Aurora and our thoughts are with the victims and their families. For the safety and security of our guests and associates, we are actively working with local law enforcement in communities throughout the nation and under the circumstances, we are reaching out to all of our theatres to review our safety and security procedures. Being a safe place in the community for all our guests is a top priority at AMC and we take that responsibility very seriously.”
Okay. Interesting proposition. So I ask them: What about a woman who wears a veil or hijab? Would she be refused entry to the theater? At this point, the twitter rep, Shane, said he would look into the situation; reporting back, he said that veils were not included in the theater’s ban on movie-going attire.
I asked for clarification regarding the wearing of hijabs, because issues about veils and other body-coverings have increasingly become an issue in Western European countries over the last decade or so (France being the topmost example in my mind).
At this point, Shane said that AMC was really just asking their customers to use their best judgement. But that wasn’t what AMC was doing, I pointed out. AMC was saying “no fake weapons and no face masks.” Maybe the better policy would be to have a policy of allowing customers to use their best judgement?
It sounds as though I’m picking on AMC here, as if they could be at fault for an act of horrifying, senseless violence that took place on their property. As if they could have forseen it. And that is not my intention. The next question I asked was a bit broader:
Were guns permitted in AMC theaters?
At this point, one of my twitter followers chimed in to mention that actually, many citizens are able to get concealed carry permits. In this case, how would the theater know that the moviegoer had a concealed weapon? Pat-downs? Searches? Metal detectors?
The thoughts in my head:
– We didn’t have these things in school when I was growing up. Then we had Columbine.
– We didn’t have them in airports – just X-ray machines – when I was growing up. Then we had 9/11.
– If the MPAA thinks they’re losing money to piracy, wait until they start losing money to I don’t want to go through a metal detector every time I go to the movies.
This blog entry rambles. Time to draw it to a close.
My thoughts and gratitude go out to those on social media whose lives have been touched by this tragedy, who have taken The Aurora Incident, as AMC’s website calls it, as an opportunity for dialogue and communication. Both are good things. My heart is with the people who were just out to enjoy a movie they wanted to love – and whose lives were irrevocably altered (or worse, ended) in this morning’s early hours.
Peace and love, friends. Stay safe.